Be A Resonant Leader

Be A Resonant Leader

Great Leadership Is Primal

Emotional Intelligence

“Great leaders move us” (p. 3)

“They ignite our passion and inspire the best in us” (p. 3).

“Great leadership works through the emotions” (p. 3).

“No matter what leaders set out to do — whether it’s creating strategy or mobilizing teams to action — their success depends on how they do it” (p. 3).

“The emotional task of the leader is primal — that is, first — in two senses: It is both the original and most important act of leadership” (p. 5).

“The key, of course, to making primal leadership work to everyone’s advantage lies in the leadership competencies of emotional intelligence [EI]: how leaders handle themselves and their relationships” (p. 6).

“The leader can add the strongest flavor to the emotional soup of a group. The leader can set the emotional standard” (p. 8, 9).

“How people feel about working for a company can effect performance by 20-30 percent” (pp.17, 18).

“In any work setting, the emotional and the business impact of a dissonant leader can be gauged easily…People feel off-balance, and thus perform poorly” (p. 19).

The Resonant Leader

“[The resonant leader] was attuned to people’s feelings and moved them in a positive emotional direction.  Speaking authentically from his own values and resonating with the emotions of those around him, he hit just the right chords with his message, leaving people feeling uplifted and inspired even in a difficult moment.  When a leader triggers resonance, you can read it in people’s eyes: They’re engaged and they light up” (pp. 19, 20).

The Four Domains

“Each of the four domains of emotional intelligence — self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management — adds a crucial set of skills for resonant leadership” (p. 30).

  • Self Awareness

“In short, self-awareness facilitates both empathy and self-management, and these two, in combination, allow effective relationship management.  EI leadership, then, builds from a foundation of self-awareness.  Self-awareness — often overlooked in business settings — is the foundation for the rest: Without recognizing our own emotions, we will be poor at managing them, and less able to understand them in others” (p. 30).

“Simply put, self-awareness means having a deep understanding of one’s emotions, as well as one’s strengths and limitations and one’s values and motives” (p. 40).

  • Self-Management

“From self-awareness — understanding one’s emotions and being clear about one’s purpose — flows self-management, the focused drive that all leaders need to achieve their goal.  Without knowing what we are feeling, we’re at a loss to manage those feelings.  Instead, our emotions control us” (p. 45).

  • Social Awareness

“Social awareness — particularly empathy — supports the next step in the leader’s primal task: driving resonance.  By being attuned to how others feel in the moment, a leader can say and do what’s appropriate, whether that means calming fears, assuaging anger, or joining in good spirits.  This attunement also lets a leader sense the shared values and priorities that can guide a group” (p. 30).

“After self-awareness and emotional self-management, resonant leadership requires social awareness or, put another way, empathy.  The ability to empathize, in its most basic form, stems from neurons in extended circuitry connected to, and in, the amygdala that read another person’s face and voice for emotion and continually attune us to how someone else feels as we speak to them” (p. 48).

  • Relationship Management

“Finally, once leaders understand their own vision and values and can perceive the emotions of the group, their relationship management skills can catalyze resonance.  The guide the emotional tone of a group, however, leaders must first have a sure sense of their own direction and priorities — which brings us back again to the importance of self awareness” (p. 31).

“Managing relationships skillfully boils down to handling other people’s emotions.  This, in turn, demands that leaders be aware of their own emotions and attuned with empathy to the people they lead” (p. 51).

Assess Yourself: Are You A Resonant Leader?*


Rank yourself out of ten in each area (1 = not at all; 10 = frequently)

  • Personal Competence
    • Self-awareness
      • How “in touch” are you with your own feelings? ……
      • How well do you know your own strengths and weaknesses? ……
      • How healthy is your self-image?
    • Self-management
      • How much do you show evidence of possessing a drive to improve your own performance?
      • How well do you control your own anger and frustrations?
      • How free are you of self-destructive habits and addictions?
      • How able are you at adapting to changing situations?
      • How self-disciplined are you at being able to sacrifice your lifestyle now in order to work for a reward you won’t see for many years?
      • How much have you proven to have the ability to show initiative?
      • How well do you handle personal setbacks?
  • Social Competence
    • Social awareness
      • How good is your reputation for understanding other people’s point of view?
      • How naturally aware are you of the characteristics and culture of a group of people?
      • How naturally aware are you of the feelings and needs of others?
    • Relationship management
      • How able are you at resolving conflicts with people?
      • How well can you inspire others with an idea?
      • How easily are you able to make friends?
      • How much are you able to initiate change in an organisation?
      • How is your ability to win a debate whilst remaining friends?
      • How much do you naturally attract people around you?
      • How much do people naturally look to you for strength and leadership during times of change?

“If you’re a leader, you want to be the boss people want to work for, which means someone who cares about me, understands me, who’s going to help me do better instead of just look at how I’ve blown it”  (

The Happiness Advantage/Emotional Intelligence At Work

We Are All Connected Emotionally

How many of you have worked on a group project — either at work or in school?  How many have been on a project in which the group produced outstanding results?  How many have been on a project in which the group produced mediocre results — meaning results that didn’t reflect what the group was capable of given the talents of the people involved?  What do you think were some of the reasons for this?

How many of those reasons are IQ-related; that is, related to the mental or cognitive intelligence of the players in the group?

How many of those reasons are EQ-related, that is, related to the emotional intelligence of the players in the group?

Group, or better yet, team performance depends on both the IQ and EQ of the members of the team, as well as the IQ and EQ of the leader.  Today let’s focus on EQ and a framework for understanding it.

Happiness Advantage


From Shawn Achor in The Happiness Advantage I learned this activity.  Count off in 1s and 2s.  For the next minute, 1s are to look 2s in the eye and show absolutely no emotion for as long as you can.   2s are to look 1s in the eye and smile at them genuinely.  Ready?  Go!

OK, how long were the 1s able to show no emotion?

(Most people break a smile within 5 seconds.)


We’re all connected emotionally.  Our brains have mirror neutrons that sense and mimic the feelings, actions, and physical sensations of others.  Some call this the “limbic dance.”  The point is this: the emotions of a group, team, organization, society are not random.  You and I can change them.

Primal Leadership

We Can All Be Positive Emotional Contributors

Let’s practice being emotional contributors.


First, let’s break into groups of 3-4.

Second, let’s ask each group to elect a leader to lead the group for the next 10 minutes.

Third, let’s ask each elected leader to meet with me for a very brief conference.

Leaders receive a 100-peice jigsaw puzzle and two different index cards that each describes one of the following leadership styles.  They are asked to utilize one leadership style for 5 minutes, then switch to a second one.

  • Affiliative: an emotional leadership style that involves the sharing of feelings and emotions; emphasizing individual’s feeling over the task that needs to be completed; and striving to keep people happy and create harmony (the HOW and the WHAT).
  • Coaching: an emotional leadership style that involves having personal conversations with individuals to explore their dreams, goals, and hopes; helping them identify their strengths; and giving them assignments/tasks that allow them to utilize their strengths and reach their goals (the HOW and the WHAT).
  • Commanding: an emotional leadership style that involves providing forceful direction in order to get better and quicker results; taking forceful steps to get things done; and even getting angry with the appropriate person in the appropriate way and time to achieve a goal — putting the goal or task over the person’s emotional health (the HOW).
  • Democratic: an emotional leadership style that involves seeking advice from others to solve a problem or meet a challenge; getting feedback in order to make improvements; and emphasizing collaboration and teamwork (the HOW and the WHAT).
  • Pacesetting: an emotional leadership style that involves leading by example and setting high standards for work effort and speed; this style involves working harder and longer than anyone else and, unfortunately, being extremely task-focused (the WHAT) and relationship-challenged.
  • Visionary: an emotional leadership style that focuses people on the future and the reasons the group is doing something, while leaving it up to individuals to determine how and what they do (the WHY as opposed to the HOW and the WHAT).

After the conference, leaders return to their groups and commence acting out their emotional leadership styles while the group works on the 100-piece puzzles.  The begin with one leadership style; after 10 minutes they switch to another.

(After 2o minutes, take a poll: ask students to rate how they felt 10 minutes into the activity and then 20 minutes into the activity and ask if the ratings were different and ask why.  Then ask if they noticed anything different in their leader’s style.)


Daniel Goleman, in an article “Leadership That Gets Results” and in a book called Primal Leadership (which he co-wrote with Boyatzis and McKee) suggests that:

  • Results/productivity depend on the emotional environment of the organization
  • The emotional environment of the organization depends on the emotional leadership styles used by the leader
  • The emotional leadership styles used by the leader depend on the leader’s emotional intelligence
  • Emotional intelligence depends on the leader’s awareness of her/his own emotions; her/his ability to manage those emotions; the leader’s awareness of others’ emotions; and the leader’s ability to manage the emotions of others–in particular, by choosing the appropriate emotional leadership style.
  • That the ability to manage the emotions of others also requires knowing when to use which emotional leadership style

Below is a brief description, goal, occasion, and outcome of each style.

Why Care About Emotional Intelligence?

Let’s take a biblical view.

  • One lesson from Genesis is that we have been put in charge of God’s creation and are to be good stewards of the resources God has given us.  That includes our minds and our emotions.  That includes leadership frameworks and the discoveries of science, including Goleman et al’s emotional intelligence framework.
  • One lesson from Matthew is Jesus commands us to love God and our neighbor as ourselves.

We all enjoy working in a positive emotional climate.  In fact, studies show that in a positive climate we are more creative and better at problem-solving.

So how can we love God and neighbor in work group?  By providing the right climate for people to be people and do their best work.  That means understanding our own leadership styles and adjusting them appropriately at the appropriate times.  Because we are all emotionally-connected.

Shawn Achor in The Happiness Advantage asks: does success lead to happiness or does happiness lead to success?  He argues it’s the latter.  While we can’t guarantee success for people, we can do our best to create a happier climate.

Style Description Goal Occasion Outcome
Affiliative People’s feelings come first To create harmony and emotional bonds To heal emotional rifts and reduce tension; to make people feel comfortable in the early stages of team-building Positive if not overused or used exclusively; otherwise mediocrity
Coaching Connects individual’s strengths to goals To develop people To better position people and assign tasks in an organization Positive if not overused or used exclusively; otherwise can diverge people’s efforts from organizational goals and performance
Commanding Directs people’s attention to the task at hand. To get immediate compliance In a crisis—emergencies—or with a certain action is needed immediately Positive in the very, very short term; otherwise negative (use of power erodes moral “authority”)
Democratic Collects people’s thoughts; collaborate To gather input to better understand a situation or solve a problem When the leader is new to the job; when buy-in and is needed (especially in the middle stages of team-building). Positive if not overused or used exclusively; otherwise very time consuming and trying of people’s patience
Pacesetting Leads by example; takes on the work of poor performers To set high standards and expectations for effort To get more results from an already highly motivated team Positive in the very, very short term; otherwise negative because people can feel pushed and not trusted
Visionary Articulates a vision and asks people to come along To create long-term momentum toward a desired end When clear direction is needed Positive if not overused or used exclusively; otherwise people see the leaders as a dreamer but not a doer

How Do We Educate Students To Succeed?

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the skill needed for all aspects of life.  As M. Scott Peck says, “Life is a series of problems.”  Best to be able to solve them.

Personal Leadership Development

Personal Leadership means being able to manage oneself.  Peter Drucker famously wrote:  “Now most of us, even those of us with modest endowments, will have to learn to manage ourselves.  We will have to learn to develop ourselves.  We will have to place ourselves where we can make the greatest contribution” (Drucker, HBR Leadership Fundamentals, p. 7).

Managing ourselves is a primal skill because at our core we default to being emotional, rationalizing beings.  Today we refer to the skills that manage our primal instincts as emotional intelligence: “The key…to making primal leadership work to everyone’s advantage lies in the leadership competencies of emotional intelligence [EI]: how leaders handle themselves and their relationships” (Goleman, Primal Leadership, p. 6).

For example, if you tracked high IQ people over time, who would rise to the top of organizations and stay there?  You guessed it: emotionally intelligent people.

Vocational and Career Discernment

Like Critical Thinking and Personal Leadership Development, Vocational Discernment is a necessary skill for success.  Vocational Discernment, however, not only defines success differently, it empowers the development of Critical Thinking and Emotional Intelligence skills — more than any extrinsic motivator ever could.  And it is not a gift to be achieved, but received.

Note Vocational Discernment is different that Career Discernment.  Although they could be the same, they don’t usually entirely overlap.   One might say that one’s Vocation transcends and transforms one’s career, much like one’s eulogy virtues might transcend and transform one’s resume virtues (David Brooks).

A Gift To Be Received

Some people find success by learning the rules of the game and using them to get ahead.  Others break all the rules, or at least some of them.  “I believe that God doesn’t want us to be satisfied with just the status quo.  I think in a sense everyone is called to be an entrepreneur in a way. We are all called by God to approach life as an opportunity to use our skills that God has given us to better the world for the glory of God” (Jordan Rose).

Another work for calling is vocation: “True vocation joins self and service, as Frederick Buechner asserts when he defines vocation as ‘the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need’” (Parker Palmer).

Interestingly, David Brooks tells us that we don’t find out calling, it finds us.  That may be true.  As Parker Palmer writes, “Today I understand vocation quite differently — not as a goal to be achieved but as a gift to be received” (Parker Palmer).

In other words, it is a gift to be called to make the world a better place doing that which combines one’s deep gladness and the world’s deep need.  The concept that pulls those concepts together, believe it or not, is Holiness.  Can striving for holiness lead to joy?

Our Vocation Is To Become Holy

We are called to holiness (big “C” calling).  In other words, God intends for us to be perfect.  But perfection is not something we can obtain this side of heaven. However, in accepting it and then seeking it we can experience wisdom and joy!  Joy and wisdom come from radical dependence on God and interdependence on others.  Sounds crazy!

We can strive toward holiness, believe it or not, by accepting we have a calling and seeking to discern, develop, and deploy it (little “c” calling).   Doing so is incredibly empowering and motivates us to become even better at critical thinking and personal leadership.  There is nothing more energizing than doing that which brings us fulfillment and joy.

Discerning, Developing, Deploying

Discerning can occur when we listen to what God speaks in our lives and in our hearts — our holy discontent.

Development can occur when our Adam II transcends Adam I (when our eulogy virtues begin transcending our resume virtues), and our  “fundamental” state of leadership transcends our “normal one” such that it reflects the fruits of the Spirit.   It is no long conforming to the pattern of the world (Romans 12:1,2).

Deployment can occur when we actively pursue God and his will in our work.  This is also the source of wisdom, which is both understanding and practice, “for we do not understand until and unless we live this understanding” (Gordon Smith).

Therefore, if we wish to set students up for success, we need to enhance their critical thinking and personal leadership skills.  But most of all, we need to help them accept and discern, develop, and deploy their gifts and calling.  How do we do that?  In the classroom but also outside of the classroom via experiential learning and mentoring.

What is experiential learning?  Learning that includes:

  • Reflection, critical analysis and synthesis
  • Opportunities for initiative, decision-making, and accountability
  • Holistic learning: learning that engages the head (intellect), heart (emotions), soul (beliefs and values), and hands (physical engagement)

Which learning opportunities bring us joy?  Why?  Which meet the the world’s deep needs?  How?

Leading From The Bottom

Maybe you are starting your first full-time post-college job.  Or maybe you are starting over in a new place.  If so, this post may be for you.

Your Situation

It’s your first week on the job.  Let’s recognize the obvious.

  • First, every job has a “honeymoon” period.  As in life, the weather changes.  When the storm comes, you will question whether you’re are where you should be.
  • Second, some conflict comes naturally.   Disagreements and feelings of frustration are not unusual.  The remedy is to understand the source of the conflict.  Is it shallow or deep?  Is it about personality or culture?
  • Third, you weren’t hired to be a change agent.  And even if you were, be patient.  According to Heifetz et al (in The Practice of Adaptive Leadership), people aren’t afraid of change, per se.  They are afraid of losing something.  Therefore, when they sense change is approaching, they become emotionally attached to what is, not what might be.  A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.  Best to listen and learn and leverage the good already occurring and be changed yourself.

The first thing to do in terms of self-change is to take a back seat, listen, and learn. The more you know at the beginning, the better you will be prepared to deal with what comes later. What you will want to know in the beginning is the culture of the organization, and the leadership styles of those in power over you. What you want to develop is greater emotional intelligence and an understanding of what it means to be a leader. Then you can develop a short-term and long-term plan for making a difference.


Soon you will be second-guessing your decision to choose the company and job you did.  Why?  One reason is the culture of the organization.  It may not be what you expected or are accustomed to.  So it is good to understand it.

To understand the culture of your organization, begin by mapping it.  Consider Cameron and Quinn’s “Competing Values Framework” (in Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture and Organizations serve different purposes.  They  vary in terms of their values.

  • “Clan” cultures value the “development” of people and therefore seek to practice collaboration and emphasize “human relations.”
  • “Market” cultures are diametrically opposed to “Clan” cultures and value “performance.”  People within them “compete” against themselves and others.   They emphasize achievement and “rational goals.”
  • “Adhocracy” cultures value disruptive innovatation and utilize “open systems.”  They are organizations without permanent structures.  They seek “breakthroughs” — that is, disruptive innovations.In them people jump from project group to project group to understand and solve problems.
  • “Hierarchical” cultures are diametrically opposed to “Adhocracy” cultures.  They value “incremental” change” and seek to “control” or reduce chaos within their organizational boundaries.  Instead of utilizing open systems, they utilize internal processes to standardize and drive efficiency.

Generally, organizations are each a unique combination of several cultures.  Even so,

Thus, if you are a person who likes to innovate and implement fast, you will be frustrated in collaborate or control cultures.   If you are a person who likes to work closely with people in a slower-paced predictable environment, you will be frustrated in create or compete cultures.

Leadership Styles

A second reason you may be guessing your decision is your supervisor’s leadership style. Cultures tend to be influenced by and to influence leadership styles.  To some extent, the CEO influences the culture of the entire organization.  But the influence of the leader is more salient in sub-units.  Thus within sub-units, cultures can change depending on the style of the leader.  Best to understand your leader’s style of influence. Parker (in “Leadership Styles of Agricultural Communications and Information Technology Managers: What Does the Competing Values Framework Tell Us About Them?” in has a helpful framework. For instance,

Likewise, Goleman (in “Leadership That Gets Results” and has a useful model for understanding leadership styles.


Goleman’s styles reflect Parker’s findings.

  • “Pacesetting” corresponds to the “director” or “producer” roles.  “Market-oriented” supervisors influence people by “telling” them to do what is needed by setting high goals.  They say: “Here’s the goal.  Beat it.”
  • “Affiliating” corresponds to the “mentor” and “coach”  roles.  Affiliative managers ask  “How do you feel?” and “Why do you think you feel that way?”
  • Being “democratic” corresponds to “facilitator” role.  “Clan-oriented” supervisors influence people through “participative” strategies — inviting people to contribute their unique gifts to understanding and solving problems, and at the same time seeking “buy-in” or “consensus.”  They ask  “What do you think?  What is your opinion about this issue?”
  • “Visionary” corresponds to the “innovator” role.  “Create-oriented” supervisors are “transformational” and strategic in nature, because they lead people to a new place that, one that “transcends” old ways of doing things in order to more closely align the organization to fundamental values.  They ask “How can we get there?”
  • “Commanding” corresponds to the “monitor” and “coordinator” roles because it involves compliance with one “right” way.  “Hierarchy-oriented’ supervisors “force” or incentivize, positively or negatively, people to “comply.”  They say: “Here’s the process.  Follow it.”

Thus it is important for you to know your personal leadership style and the styles of others in your sub-unit.  People change faster than culture does, therefore the culture of sub-units change faster than the culture of the entire organization.  Better to be in sub-culture and work for a person whose leadership style fits you best.  Also, better to know yourself emotionally in case you don’t.  If, for example, you crave vision and strategy you will be frustrated in a affiliative, clan culture.

One of the least valued yet most important skills is managing your own emotions and positively influencing the emotions of those around you.  But first you must see and understand them.  Doing so will prepare you to alleviate a lot of frustration later. Understanding your own and the emotions of others is the art and science of emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence

Becoming more emotionally intelligent involves:

  • Becoming more aware of what frustrates you and what gives you energy and why (self-awareness) and what frustrates others and gives them energy (social awareness) and why.  It means coming to grips with your competing values map and the competing values maps of others.
  • Becoming more emotionally intelligent means managing your emotions (self-management)  so that you can see and take things in perspective.  So that you can step up to the balcony to gain a better understanding of what is going on all around you.

Here are some signs of a lack of emotional intelligence in the workplace:

  • It seems the followers don’t get the point and it frustrates the boss.
  • The boss is surprised when others negatively respond to their comments/jokes and he/she thinks they’re overreacting.
  • The boss believes it doesn’t matter if he/she is liked at work.
  • The boss weighs in early with assertions and strongly defends them.
  • The boss finds others to blame.
  • For more, see Muriel Maignan Wilkins’ “Signs That You Lack Emotional Intelligence” (

The point is that you don’t want to be an emotionally-toxic person. The other is that you need to be able deal with someone who is.

Leader or Manager

One helpful framework for understanding your cultural situation and emotional intelligence is to understand the difference between a leader or manager.

  • A manager focuses on systems and structure, a leader focuses on people; a manager maintains, a leader develops; a manager relies on control, a leader inspires trust (Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader: “Leaders don’t care very much for organizational structure or the official blessing of whatever factory they work for.  They use passion and ideas to lead people as opposed to using threats and bureaucracy to manage them” (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 22).  “Managers manage by using the authority the factory gives them.  You listen to your manager or you lose your job” (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 22).

  • Managers administrate, leaders innovate; a manager has a short­-range view, a leader has a long-­range perspective; a manager asks how and when, a leader asks what and why (Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader: Thus, leaders are curious persons who explore first and then consider whether or not he/she wants to accept the ramifications (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 63).  Managers are people who consider whether the fact is acceptable to his religion before he/she explores it (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 63).  Leaders ask for  forgiveness (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 70).  Managers ask for permission (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 70).
  • Managers have their eyes on the bottom line, leaders have their eyes on the horizon (Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader Leaders have faith (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 80).  Managers have religion (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 80).
  • A manager imitates, a leader originates (Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader:  Leaders respond (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 86).  Managers react (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 86).  Leaders do things (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 87).  Managers have things happen to them (Seth Godin, Tribes, p. 87).
  • A manager is a copy, a leader is an original (Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader:

You will find more leaders in Collaborative (Clan) and Create (Adhocracy) cultures. If you and your boss make decisions by imitating what your competitors do, both you and your organization are on a path to slow death.


So how does one lead from the bottom?  In the short-run:

  • Know the culture of your organization and sub-unit.
  • Know your own leadership style and the leadership styles of those around you.
  • Understand the basis of your frustration.
  • Begin to build relationships by learning from and loving your new neighbors.


If you believe in eternity, lead for the long-run:

  • Be the type of person you wish others to be.
  • Seek to do the right thing more than doing things right.
  • Be creative and collaborative across bureaucratic silos; build a tribe.
  • Grow into a “Level 5 Leader,” a person of “personal humility and professional will” (Jim Collins, Good to Great).
  • Become more spiritually mature — a person of character.  For the long run, think of Servant Leadership as a good EI strategy.  (See 
  • Empower others to discern, develop, and deploy their gifts and calling.

When you are in your first full-time job post-college or starting over, it can initially feel as thrilling as walking on water.  But the storm and waves will come. And soon you will sink. You may find yourself drowning.  Just remember that whatever happens God is in control.  Ground yourself in him and don’t worry. Easier said than done.